Advancement & Awards

Advancement Guidelines

Advancement is an integral part of the Scouting program which provides recognition for individual effort and accomplishment, as well as a measure of acquired proficiency in basic skills. Advancement is a three- part obligation of:
  • The Scout to take the initiative and to work;
  • The parents to encourage excellence;
  • The adult leaders of the Troop to provide guidance and opportunity.
Requirements for advancement are described in the Scout Handbook and other Scout literature. Both Scout and parent should be thoroughly familiar with the requirements. The Scoutmaster, Advancement Chairman, and other adult leaders as well as the Scout leadership can answer questions about getting started on the "Trail to Eagle." Rank advancements, merit badges, and most other awards will be presented as soon as practicable after being earned, pproved, certified, and registered. They also will be recognized at the next Family Night Dinner/Court of Honor.

A Scout who is not steadily advancing to 1st Class rank is missing a vital part of the program. Advancement beyond 1st Class is attainable through the opportunities which the Troop provides, but it also requires determination, initiative, and leadership on the part of the Scout. Guidelines indicating the maximum amounts of time that should elapse from joining to the attainment of each rank up through 1st Class are listed below. If these are not being met, the Scout and/or parents should contact the Advancement Chairman.

 Tenderfoot 3 months
 2nd Class 9 months
 1st Class 18 months

These are maximums; an active, well motivated Scout can achieve 1st Class within 12 months. Troop 116 strongly encourages Eagle candidates to have both the Swimming and Lifesaving merit badges, the Cooking merit badge, and the 50-Miler Award.

Merit Badge Protocols

Merit badges are an integral part of advancement for ranks above First Class. Merit badges are important for the Scout to learn new skills, to work outside the normal Troop meeting with an adult counselor, and to present what he has done. Some weekly meeting programs and most of the planned monthly outings include counselors and opportunities for working toward and passing off merit badge requirements. Prior and outside preparation is required. Requirements for earning merit badges include the following steps to be taken by the Scout.

  1. Get approval from the Scoutmaster prior to beginning work on a merit badge. This is done by obtaining a merit badge "blue card" and asking the Scoutmaster to sign it.  He will advise you about possible merit badge counselors who are registered for the desired badge.
  2. Obtain the desired merit badge book and become familiar with the requirements of the badge. The Troop has a limited supply of merit badge books which may be checked out from the Troop Librarian. Some are old and out of date. Be sure to check the book date to insure it is the current version.
  3. With the advice and assistance of the Scoutmaster, find a merit badge counselor who is registered for the desired badge. The Scoutmaster and Advancement Chairman maintain a list of such adults and can assist the Scout in finding an appropriate counselor. It is best that a parent not sign a merit badge card as counselor for his own son.
  4. Before beginning any requirements for the badge, contact the assigned merit badge counselor to get his agreement to be your counselor and to get any instructions he may have for completion of requirements to his satisfaction.
  5. Successfully complete all the requirements to the satisfaction of the designated counselor and have the him sign and date the merit badge card. Prior to presenting the merit badge card to the counselor for signature, the Scout should enter in ink his name & address, troop, district, council, counselor name & address, and name of merit badge into the appropriate spaces on the card. The Scout should leave all dates blank. Dates are entered by the Scoutmaster or counselor when signing.
  6. Present the completed merit badge card to the Scoutmaster for his second signature and processing.

Advancement Board of Review Protocols

A Scout coming before an Advancement Board of Review should be thoroughly familiar with what was done for the rank applied for, including merit badge work completed for the rank. He must be in proper and complete Official Scout Uniform (with merit badge sash). Scouts who are ready to advance and want to shedule a Board of Review should do the following:

  1. Insure that all requirements have been completed.
  2. Ask the Scoutmaster for a "Scoutmaster Conference." It is advisable to give him at least a week's notice.
  3. Participate in a practice or pre-Board of Review. The Senior Patrol Leader will assist in selecting an appropriate leadership Scout who can schedule and conduct a pre-board.
  4. Ask the Asst. Advancement Chairman to schedule a Board of Review for you. He will also need at least a week's notice.
    • The Asst. Advancement Chairman will need at least one week advance notice to make an appointment for you and schedule the other needed adult resources.
    • If you later find you cannot come to your Board of Review at the appointed time, you must contact the Asst. Advancement Chairman as soon as possible to cancel. Other adult resources will have been committed for your Board that must be cancelled or reallocated. Being a no-show is discourteous and will reflect unfavorably on you.
Requirements for a Scout appearing before a Board of Review are as follows:
  1. Be in proper and complete Official Scout Uniform with merit badge sash.
  2. Bring your Scout Handbook.
  3. Bring your merit badge "blue cards" for merit badges earned and required for the rank being applied for.
  4. Bring rope and poles suitable for tying the required knots and lashings.
  5. Bring your compass and a topo map.
  6. Bring any merit badge books and/or written work or project documentation that is applicable.
Rank advancements, merit badges, and most other awards will be presented as soon as practicable after being earned, approved, certified, and registered. They also will be recognized at the next Family Night Dinner/Court of Honor.

Boards of Review Overview, Requirements and Responsibilities

Purpose and Timeliness of Boards of Review

After a Scout has completed the requirements for any rank (except Scout rank), he or she appears before a board of review. A board of review must be a personal and individual experience. Its purpose is to determine the quality of the Scout's experience and decide whether the requirements for the rank have been fulfilled. If so, the board not only approves the Scout's advancement but also provides encouragement to continue the quest for the next rank. Because the board of review date becomes the effective advancement date, boards should be scheduled promptly as Scouts are ready or set up on a regular basis that assures Scouts are not delayed in beginning time-oriented requirements for the next rank.
A Scout shall not be denied this opportunity. When a Scout believes that all the requirements for a rank have been completed, including a Scoutmaster conference, a board of review must be granted. Scoutmasters--or councils or districts in the case of the Eagle Scout rank-- for example, do not have authority to expect a Scout to request or organize one, or to "defer" the Scout, or to ask the Scout to perform beyond the requirements in order to be granted one. Neither can a board of review be denied or postponed due to issues such as uniforming, payment of dues, participation in fundraising activities, etc.
In a case where there is concern that the requirements for a rank as written have not been fulfilled, it is appropriate to advise the Scout that he or she might not pass the board and to make suggestions about what might be done to improve the chances for success. It is, however, the Scout's decision to go ahead with a board of review or not.

Composition of the Board of Review

A board of review must consist of no fewer than three members and no more than six, all of whom must be at least 21 years of age. Unit leaders and assistants shall not serve on a board of review for a Scout in their own unit. Parents, guardians, or relatives shall not serve on a board for their child. The candidate or the candidate's parent(s) or guardian(s), or relative(s) shall have no part in selecting any board of review members.

Appearance for a Board of Review

It is preferred a Scout be in full field uniform for any board of review. As much of the uniform as the Scout owns should be worn, and it should be as correct as possible, with the badges worn properly. It may be the uniform as typically worn by the Scout's troop.  If wearing all or part of the uniform is impractical for whatever reason, the candidate should be clean and neat in appearance and dressed appropriately, according to the Scouts means. Boards of review shall not reject candidates solely for reasons related to uniforming or attire, as long as they are dressed to the above description. Candidates shall not be required to purchase uniforming or clothing to participate in a board of review.

Conducting the Board of Review

The unit leader may remain in the room, but only to observe, not to participate unless called upon.  At Troop 116, the Unit leadership generally does not attend the Board of Review.  The number of "observers" at a board of review should otherwise be minimized. The members of the board of review, however, have the authority to exclude the unit leader or any other observers if they believe their presence will inhibit open and forthright discussion. Youth observers are not permitted in boards of review for Scouts BSA advancement.
The Scout's parents, relatives, or guardians should not be in attendance in any capacity--not as members of the board, as observers, or even as the unit leader. Their presence can change the discussion dynamics. In cases where parents or guardians insist on attending a board of review, they should be counseled that their presence can change how their child addresses questions and that the opportunity to further self-reliance and courage may be lessened. However, if parents or guardians still insist on being present, they must be permitted to attend as observers. For Scouts with special needs, see additional information under "Advancement in Scouts BSA for Scouts with Special Needs,"
In situations where--before a board is held--one or more members are of an opinion the Scout should be rejected, they should discuss their reasoning with the unit leader or others who know the Scout. Generally, a unit leader is closer to the youth; he or she may be able to present a different perspective and prevent an uncomfortable or unfair scenario. Board members who cannot be fair and impartial should recuse themselves.

Not a Retest or "Examination"

The reason for a Board of Review is to help ensure the Scout did what was supposed to have been done to meet the requirements.  It is not to be a retest of examination of the scout, nor a challenge of the Scouts knowledge. It is to be a celebration of the accomplishment. 
A Scout must not be rejected at a board of review for reasons unrelated to advancement requirements. For example, the Scout must not be rejected for not bringing a Scouts BSA Handbook or being tardy for a board of review, but the reason for the tardiness may certainly be a topic for discussion.

What can be discussed

Board members may ask where skills were learned by the Scout, who the Scout's teachers were, and what was gained from fulfilling selected requirements. The answers will reveal what was done to earn the rank. It can be determined, then, if this was what the Scout was supposed to do. Discussion of how the Scout has lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law at home, at school, in the unit, and in the community should be included. We must remember, however, that though we have high expectations for our members, as for ourselves, we do not insist on perfection. It is most important that the Scout has a positive attitude, accepts Scouting's ideals, and sets and meets good standards in daily life.
A board is not required to record "minutes," but it is a good idea. Any such notes must remain confidential to the members of the board or to administrators with a need to know. They may be used in preparing a follow-up letter, should a Scout be turned down, and they can be helpful in an appeal process. In any case, once a review or appeal is completed, all notes must be destroyed.

Board Members Must Agree Unanimously on Decisions to Approve

After the board of review, the Scout is asked to wait outside the room or out of hearing range while the board deliberates. To approve awarding a rank, the board must agree unanimously. Every effort should be made to deliberate with careful consideration of each member's perspective and in sufficient detail as to avoid factual misunderstanding. It is appropriate to call the candidate back if additional questions may provide clarification. Still, if any member dissents, the decision cannot be for approval. In the case of such disagreement, the Scout shall not be informed about the specifics of the conversations or any arguments taking place.  The Scout is only told what improvements need to be made.

After The Review

If the members agree a Scout is ready to advance, the Scout is called in and congratulated. The board of review date--not that of a subsequent court of honor--becomes the rank's effective date.
If a board does not approve, the candidate must be so informed and told what can be done to improve. Most Scouts accept responsibility for their behavior or for not completing requirements properly.
If it is thought that a Scout, before his or her 18th birthday, can benefit from an opportunity to properly complete the requirements, the board may adjourn and reconvene at a later date. If the candidate agrees to this, then, if possible, the same members should reassemble. If the candidate does not agree, then the board must make its decision at that point. In any case, a follow-up letter must be promptly sent to a Scout who is turned down. A copy of the letter should also be sent to the council's designated appeals coordinator, council advancement chair, and advancement staff advisor. The letter must include actions advised that may lead to advancement, and also an explanation of appeal procedures.

Particulars for Tenderfoot through Life Rank Board of Reviews

The preceding applies to boards of review for all Scouts BSA ranks (except Scout rank), but there are a few differences for the ranks other than Eagle:
  • The board is made up of three to six unit committee members--no more and no less. In units with fewer than three registered committee members available to serve, it is permissible to use knowledgeable parents (not those of the candidate) or other adults (registered or not) who are at least 21 years of age and who understand Scouting's aims. Using unregistered adults for boards of review must be the exception, not the rule. Registered committee members familiar with the unit program, who have had a background check, and who are Youth Protection trained are preferred. Scheduling boards of review when and where unit committee members can attend usually alleviates the problem of not having enough committee members for a board.
  • One member serves as chair. The unit committee decides how he or she is chosen. The chair conducts review meetings according to BSA procedures and reports results to the unit advancement coordinator.
  • The location should be comfortable, such as the unit's meeting place or a camp setting.
  • The review should take approximately 15 minutes, but not longer than 30 minutes.
  • Ranks shall not be presented until the signed advancement report is submitted to the local council.
  • If a Scout is to be reviewed for more than one rank (Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class), each rank should have a separate board of review. While these boards may be conducted on the same date, it is preferred--if feasible--that different members be involved on the boards to give the Scout an enhanced experience and an opportunity to interact with a variety of adults.

Eagle Scout Rank Boards

While we have a separate set of people on the committee that trained for Eagle Scout Rank Boards, I have included the differences in this document to help outline some of the difference between the lower ranks and those of the Eagle Board of Review.
The particulars below pertain only to the Eagle Scout rank.
1. Council advancement committees must determine-- and make known--method(s) for conducting Eagle Scout boards of review: whether unit committees or the council or district advancement committees administer them, and also how board chairpersons are selected.
2. If conducted at the unit level, at least one district or council representative, who is not affiliated with the unit, must serve as a member. If the unit requests it, more than one may do so.
3. There shall be no fewer than three and no more than six members, all at least 21 years old. They need not be on an advancement committee or registered with the Boy Scouts of America, but they must have an understanding of the rank and the purpose and importance of the review. This holds true for Eagle boards of review held in any unit, whether troop, crew, or ship.
4. A board of review shall not occur until after the local council has verified the application. In the case of a board of review under disputed circumstances, the council must verify all the information that is not in dispute before the board of review is scheduled.
5. The chair works with all involved parties to schedule the date, time, and place. Boards of review should be scheduled promptly to avoid delaying a Scout's opportunity to earn Eagle Palms. Eagle boards are often held in more formal settings than a troop meeting location or camping site.
6. A board of review must not be denied or postponed due to unresponsive references.
7. If a unit leader or unit committee chair fails to approve an application, the candidate is still granted a board of review, but the lack of approval may be considered in the decision. See "Initiating Eagle Scout Board of Review Under Disputed Circumstances,"
8. To go over the application, references, and service project workbook, members should convene at least 30 minutes before the scheduled board of review.
9. Eagle boards generally last 30 minutes or somewhat longer. This is the highest rank a Scout may achieve; there should be a discussion of his successes, experiences, and future plans, but rarely should one last longer than 45 minutes.
10. An Eagle candidate may have only one board of review (though it may be adjourned and reconvened). Subsequent action falls under the appeals process.
11. The Eagle Scout medal or patch must not be sold or otherwise provided to any unit or to the Scout, nor should the court of honor be scheduled until after the certificate is received at the council service center from the National Advancement Program Team. Alternatively, a council-generated report from the PAS/ ScoutNET system may be used to purchase Eagle Scout items in lieu of the official certificate.